December 17, 1863. - 11.15 a.m.
GENERAL: I am on the Mermenton, having left Vermillion Bayou yesterday. I started my old brigade (Sibley's old brigade) day before yesterday, and learned last night that they were between Plaquemine Brule and another bayou, water-boundd. Colonel Hardeman is in command. I sent him a dispatch this morning to come down to this road if the bayous were still swimming on the route he is travelling. Major's brigade, consisting of Lane's, Stone's, Baylor's and Madison's regiments, left Vermillion Bayou this morning. Hardeman has the Fourth, Fifth and Seventh Regiments. Waller's battalion is on the Mississippi, near Morganza. I have sent Louisianians to relieve them, and that battalion will overtake us before we get to Texas. I have instructed brigade commanders to make all possible dispatch to Texas. I am ordered by way of Niblett's Bluff, and am preceding my command. As soon as I get to Beaumont, I will telegraph you, and have time to direct my troops to whatever point you desire me to move. I leave, by orders, all the Louisianians of my division behind, and am only joining you with Texans.
It is so cold, my fingers are stiff, and I cannot write a legible hand.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Brigadier-General, Commanding First Cavalry Division.
HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF TEXAS, &C.,
McNeel's Plantation, &c., December 18, 1863.
Colonel JAMES DUFF,
COLONEL: I am instructed by Major-General Magruder to say that you will move with your regiment an Dashiell's battery to Victoria, and take post there, and will open communication with Colonel Benavides, last heard from at Los Ajuelas.
You will direct Major Rogers, with his two companies to join Colonel Benavides. Captain Richardson's company of volunteers you will order to the vicinity of King's ranch, to afford protection against stragglers and banditti.
You will direct Colonel Benavides to furnish you with the most accurate information in regard to the enemy's movements.
You will remain at Victoria untill you learn that the enemy is advancing upon and approaching Laredo, when you will move to San Antonio, and make arrangements to mass your troops at points on the line between San Antonio and Fort Duncan establishing you headquarters, after properly disposing you troops on this line, at Fort Inge, or any other point you may think best. It is suggested, that you will so arrange your forces on this line as to move in the direction of and cover Fort Duncan or San Antonio, as the one or the other of these places is threatened.
You will direct Colonel Benavides should it become necessary on account of the approach of the enemy, to fall back in the direction of the point at which you concentrate your forces-at Fort Inge, it is perhaps best. If it be possible to rout the enemy or cut off his transportation,